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Why can’t we be Friends? How to Handle Negative Reviews

Call it what you like, negative feedback, areas of improvement or constructive criticism, hearing unsavoury comments about your work can be hard to swallow. Client feedback is stock standard with any industry and, while it can be tough, it is actually the key to success­—it’s all a matter of how you deal with it.

A proactive approach to audience needs and how best to serve them is paramount. So, when your business next receives negative feedback, what is the best way to process and respond to this information? Additionally, how can your business utilise client feedback to tighten procedures and improve areas of weakness? In today’s post this is precisely what we’ll be exploring.

An Inevitable Reality in every Industry

Understand that a sure sign that you’re on your way to success is that people are talking, good or bad. Although the latter can often be a bitter pill to swallow, it is an inevitable reality in every industry. The ever-changing digital landscape that we’re always banging on about provides users with various avenues for airing their opinions online. If you’re counting on your brand never receiving a bad review we hate to be the bearers of bad news, but you’re dreaming.


Let’s set the Scene…

You run a café supply company and an employee has just drawn your attention to several not-so-positive reviews posted online by a client we’ll call ‘Bruce’. Your immediate reaction is to clench your fists in rage and you’re almost certain there is steam coming from both ears.

Take a breather, let’s look at this objectively.

The first step is to identify Bruce’s main concerns. Bruce says the takeaway cups and stirrers he has received are exceptional quality, but the orders are always late. Ok, so Bruce is over the moon with the quality of your products, great, this means that there is still hope for savouring this relationship.

coffee cups and beans

Bad Day, Bruce?

Meet ol’ mate Bruce half way. You think your company’s takeaway cups and stirrers are top of the range too, so you can start your response on common ground. “Hi Bruce, we’re glad you’re happy with the quality of our takeaway cups and stirrers…” Be professional and acknowledge Bruce’s concerns highlighting that client feedback is important to your brand and that you’ll be doing all that you can to rectify this inconvenience. “We value your business and we’re currently taking the appropriate measures to assure that they reach you more promptly…” Bruce isn’t a bad guy, he just wants his concerns to be heard—he’s running a business of his own after all. Hearing that he is a valued customer and that you’re taking the necessary steps towards improving his service, will put a stop to those pesky reviews for now.


Extend an Olive Branch

But wait, what if you catch Bruce on a bad day? Sometimes the usual tactics fall short, what then? If Bruce’s coffee shop generates a lot of business for your company and losing that business is detrimental to your brand, perhaps it’s time to extend an olive branch. “Hi Bruce, we’re terribly sorry that our services haven’t been meeting the mark for you, and we would like to offer your company a discount on your next order.” Sometimes throwing in something extra to sweeten the deal can help to squash the issue faster. Just be careful how many times you choose to use this method as sometimes it can be an incentive for other customers to complain too.


Remember to Respond Swiftly

Of course, responding to feedback effectively is so much more than coming up with the right words to deflate the situation as quickly as possible. Timeliness is just as important as the words you use. Don’t let bad reviews linger. Respond to feedback swiftly, otherwise Bruce has time to stew and each day his fuse will grow shorter and shorter. Use the information that Bruce has brought to your attention by isolating the flaw, working out why it’s happening and how it can be prevented in the future. Think positive, each bad review is an opportunity for your business to grow and provide better services to your customers. If you can put your ego aside and realise what a vital opportunity this is, you’ll be able to push your brand forward to new levels of success.

By Nicole Wilson

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